True Story: I’m Asexual

This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/amazing/challenging things.  This is the story of Anna and her sexuality.


Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hello! I’m Anna (on the internet, at least), I’m twenty-one years old, from Portugal, and as of May 2013, I am about to graduate from my major in Criminology. For fun, I write, wander, take photos, and blog. For the past couple of years, I’ve also developed a bit of an interest in natural history and entomology – or, you know , bones and bugs.For those of us who don’t know, what is asexuality?
Asexuality is, more or less consensually, defined as the absence of sexual attraction. In its broader sense (aka The Asexual Spectrum), it encompasses an extraordinarily diverse group of people – from romantic asexuals (who fall in love – the question ‘with whom’ will then create romantic orientations), to aromantic asexuals (who do not fall in love), to demisexuals (who only experience sexual attraction once they’ve established an emotional connection), to grey-asexuals (who experience sexual attraction, but rarely). Right now, I think it’s safe to say I fall into the aromantic asexual category.

When did you realize that your sexuality was different from a lot of other people’s?
I’ve never really thought myself capable of having the same type of trajectory my friends had, both romantically and sexually. I’ve always been wary of my personal space. I have a hard time trusting people, I can’t stand being seen out of control, and I grew up a bit of a lone wolf. Looking at this scenario, it doesn’t surprise that having a relationship, and a sexual one at that, has dropped to the very bottom of my priority list.
And I’m just going to take a detour here to point something out – you don’t need to dislike sex (or the idea of it) to identify as asexual. It’s more or else agreed on that sexual orientations should be defined on the basis of sexual attraction, and not sexual action. You can be asexual and have (and enjoy!) sex – just like you can be pansexual and never have sex, to give you a contrasting example.
But back to the story. I grew up thinking that this was all going to change eventually – that I was going to meet someone, and love them, and trust them so much that I would not only let them closer, I would want them closer. That’s never happened.
How did you feel when you realized that you were asexual?
I grew into the identity, over the course of a few months. I felt miserable, at first. I knew the word fit me, but there were a lot of misconceptions I had to deconstruct before I could ‘wear’ it. I had to tell myself that I wasn’t sick, or broken, or ‘a special snowflake’. It was tough. I’d never noticed I was lacking that ‘sexual attraction’ thing, until I realized that everybody else had it, and that it seemed to make them happy. From this, I inferred that, not having it, maybe I would never be happy. It felt very serious, very defining, very life-or-death back then. Right now, it just feels liberating.
Have you been in any romantic relationships? How did you navigate those?
I have, before ‘asexual’ became a household term for me, and it was a bit of an ambivalent experience. I knew what relationships were like, because I’d seen people involved in them. And even if I was never interested in the physical part of the whole thing, I played along because it never even crossed my mind that there was a whole world outside the concepts of romance and sex. I didn’t know you could have relationships without them. On the one hand, I wish I’d known. On the other hand, it was kind of a test-drive?
Do your friends and family know that you’re asexual? 
I often talk about asexuality online, so everyone who follows me knows – and this includes a few ‘real-life’ friends. Beyond that, the subject has come up a couple of times, so I’ve told a few people almost as if by accident. One of my friends had an extremely validating, empowering reaction. Inversely, another one was straight out of a anecdote (you’ll meet the right one eventually, you just haven’t had good sex yet, but what about orgasms, and so on). It wasn’t offensive as much as it was condescending – as if they knew better and I was just pathetically mistaken.
Family-wise, I don’t really feel the need to come out. My close relatives know how I think and how I feel, they respect my decisions, and they’ve never pressured me into dating. I think we’ve struck a golden balance.
Do you date? Do you have any interest in dating?
Not right now, and I haven’t in a while – I’ve been using that time to hone my idea of an ideal relationship. At this point, I feel like a significant other could add something to my life, but I don’t feel like my life is lacking because I don’t have a significant other. To use a silly metaphor, it’s like I’m already a 100% on my own, and everything beyond that it’s a bonus that I can very well live without.
Are you interested in having children or being in a long term relationship? 
Realistically, being a mother is something that has never, ever crossed my mind. Long-term relationships are a bit trickier. In a perfect world, I’d meet a like-minded person to age with, and we would buy a big mansion, drink tea and dance to electro jazz at all times. But then again, that would be a massive bonus, and it’s not really something I require to lead a fulfilling life.
What advice would you give to others who have recently realized that they’re asexual?
Judging by the myriad of backgrounds and experiences of the asexual people I’ve come into contact with over time, I think the most important thing might just be to ignore the nay-sayers and to figure things out to the beat of one’s own drum. As far as resources go, AVEN has helped me quite a lot, with an honorable mention for the Wiki. And for those of us who learn better by relating to other people’s experiences, there’s one of my favorite projects, the monthly Carnival Of Aces! But above all things, just remember that you’re not broken, and you’re not alone. There’s a community out there, and we’re all willing to help.Thanks so much for sharing, Anna!  Do any of you identify as asexual?  Do you have an (respectful!) questions for Anna?


photo by camera karrie, cc

24 Comments

Carolina

Portugal! So nice to see someone from my country! Thank you for this interview. I had heard about the concept of being "assexual" but now I understand it a little bit better.

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Fran

I'm asexual, and it's always lovely to see people talking about it. Thank you for this interview, Sarah and Anna!

Asexuality seems to be an "invisible" sexuality with a lot of misconceptions around it (the amount of people who have told me I just need to 'meet the right person' and that I'll 'change my mind as I get older' (even though I'm 25 now!) is just staggering). It was very difficult to come to terms with it, as sex is *everywhere*, in the media especially, and there's a huge cultural narrative about people's worth being tied into their sexuality. It can be a very difficult thing to accept.

Hopefully more interviews and things like this can help to make asexuality a little more understood. Thanks again, guys!

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The Dame Intl

I'm not sure if I understand this correctly. Do asexuals simply not feel sexual desire to others wether in or out of a relationship? And you say they can enjoy sex, but then how are you asexual if you can have and enjoy sex? And what about masturbation?

Also, it is so unfortunate that we have mindless people who think everyone will eventually find their way to "normality", wether it be something like asexuality or having children.

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Fran

For me, I don't feel sexual desire at all. I don't look at people and feel any physical pull towards them. Because I've never experienced it, it's not really something I can describe. I find people aesthetically attractive, but I feel nothing beyond that. I may want to give you a hug or pet your hair if you have soft-looking hair, but nothing else.

Other asexual people may enjoy the physical act of sex – our bodies work in the same way as sexual people, we still react to stimulus – but they have no *desire* for it. When they're actually having sex, as I understand it, it may be enjoyable, but there's no urge there. Same with masturbation. That's not my experience with my asexuality though, so someone else may want to weigh in? I hope this helps a little, anyway 🙂

This is by far the best description of what it is to be asexual I've read: http://writingfromfactorx.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/if-you-can-see-the-invisible-elephant-please-describe-it/

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Anna

Hello, thank you for your question! 🙂

I think I can answer with… let's pretend "sexual attraction" is the same as "hunger". There are flaws with this comparison, but stay with me for a second. Even if you're not hungry, can you still eat? Yup! Can you still enjoy eating? Most certainly! Can you eat with other people? Can you eat by yourself? Yes!

I think the problem is that the expression "asexual" has been used too often – in television, in pop culture, etc – to describe people who are completely devoid of sexual feelings (and sex lives), and in reality, that doesn't hold true for a lot of asexuals.

Asexuality merely means we don't feel sexually attracted to people. Think about heterosexuality. It doesn't tell you whether the person enjoys sex, or whether the person masturbates, or whether the person is celibate, for whatever reason. I think people read "asexual" and immediately think "no sex ever of any kind", and yet, nothing about our sex lives is contained within that word.

Whether asexual people have sex, or masturbate, will depend on their own particular circumstances. Maybe they have sex because they love their partners, or maybe because they like the way it feels, physically, or maybe because they're curious. And maybe they masturbate because they feel their body has certain needs, or maybe as a way to relieve stress, or maybe because they enjoy the way it feels… or maybe they don't even masturbate at all.

So. I guess the whys and the hows are a very personal matter, and there's no way I can explain them for everyone in the community. I hope I was still somewhat helpful, though. 🙂

xx

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Anonymous

Thanks a lot for this interview! After reading this, I think I'm asexual too. I never feel sexual desire and most of the time I feel like I'm the only one who doesn't feel sexual desire in this world where sex seems to be one of the most important things in life. It feels very good for me to read that there are other people out there like me.

Xxx from Belgium

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Anna

Hello! First of all, it makes me super happy that this interview has been helpful to you – and that it's made you feel more included and understood. 🙂 If you have any questions or doubts, feel free to ask them around my blog, or maybe even at one of the links I shared above. Thank you for your comment!

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dollheartdiaries

Great interview Sarah and Anna, it's really great to get a perspective from somebody else's life and now I understand asexuality a little better. It's really important to talk about all the different types of normal that people can be.

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Anonymous

THANK YOU FOR THIS! Glad to see some positive press on aces. I've been struggling with relationshippy/acey things in the past week and seeing this pop up in my RSS feed today was very empowering. Keep up the awesome interviews, Sarah.

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Jenipher Lyn

It's funny this came up today… i was just talking to a friend about thinking i was asexual almost my whole life [i'm 29 now]. I've had two boyfriends, lived with them, never had sex, never wanted to. Wasn't really curious, or attracted to the idea. In most cases i was actually repulsed by it. It got to the point where i thought and wondered all the time if i was abused in some way because the act of being physically with ANYONE made me cringe.

The only person though i've ever been really attached to was a close friend, but never thought we would actually date. And even so, it wasn't like it was on TV… i loved him but since i've never been physically really with anyone, it didn't occur to me i could be sexually attracted to him….

But low and behold, when i came to visit him in 2011, ALL READY to tell him we can't be friends anymore [it's too hard to be in love with your best friend!] i never had to tell him and we started dating, and life feels SO DIFFERENT!! I am very attached to him more and more every day. We're waiting till marriage to have sex [in 10 days!! yay!] but it's like life is so different now that i have all these weird amazing feelings i never had before!!

So, i'm totally not saying 'your time will come' blah blah blah, just giving my perspective. 🙂

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Anonymous

hi Jenipher,
that's wonderful that you're getting married to the person you so obviously love. Sexuality and sexual attraction are such complex things. Sometimes, there are people who experience sexual attraction only very rarily, or only to people they are really close to. Some people who experience sexual attraction in that fashion want to identify as demi-sexual or gray-asexual or gray-A. Others never ever experience sexual attraction no matter how deeply in love they are. Everybody is different, and it's wonderful to hear your story as well. I wish you and your partner a wonderful day and a brilliant continuation of your relationship as a married couple.

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Michele

This is interesting… as someone interested in health I wonder if some of the people who identify as asexual may have undiagnosed imbalances in the system. Even things like a gluten allergy can diminish sexual desire. I'm not trying to be disrespectful – for sure sexuality runs on a spectrum in lots of ways. But if I had that issue I would probably invest in working with an integrative doctor to see if something was unbalanced, which can affect other elements of our health too. Thanks for sharing your story!

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Anonymous

It is a little offensive to call asexuality an "issue" and to suggest it's something that can – or should be – fixed. It can be very difficult to come to identify as asexual because everything in society tells you it is "wrong". I actually had all sorts of tests because I was convinced I had an imbalance of some kind, but everything was absolutely normal.

Asexuality is no more an issue or an imbalance than any other sexuality. I know you didn't mean to be disrespectful, but please understand that this is something asexuals hear a lot, and it can be very tiresome and a little upsetting. There's nothing wrong with us, and we don't need fixing.

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Anonymous

There is a difference in a lack of libido and a lack of sexual attraction. There are many asexual people who have a libido: that itch you need to scratch. Lacking sexual attraction means that you have no inate desire to engage in sexual activity with another person; no matter how gorgeous you think they are, or no matter how deeply in love you are with this person.
For me (an asexual with a libido), it means I make no connection between sex and my libido. My libido is just one of the many things my body lets me know, just like feeling thirsty or when you need to pee. It makes zero sense for me to have sex with another person, because I feel no sexual attraction to them.

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Anna

Hello Michele! First of all, I understand you don't mean to be disrespectful, but calling our sexual orientation an "issue" really isn't the best way to go about it. That word suggests something's wrong with us and we should normalise it as soon as possible – I can't speak for everyone when I say that's being asexual isn't an issue, but judging by the part of the community I do know, most of us seem pretty happy with this side of our lives. I'd go as far as to say that being asexual is only an issue because the world at large is still convinced that IT IS an issue.

At least for me, it's not. This is the way I experience the world, this is the way I've always been, and changing it would mean losing my footing. Even if asexuality was an "issue" that could be cured, I wouldn't do it. There's no reason why I should – after all, experiencing sexual attraction isn't inherently better than not experiencing sexual attraction (the opposite is also true).

Being asexual is easy to me. But alas, being asexual in a world that's set on finding something wrong with me is just a tiny, tiny bit harder.

xx

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Sarah @ Marvelous-Darling

This is such a great piece! I'm definitely going to be following your blog, Anna.

I started out blogging as a dating blogger and sex toy reviewer, and still work with companies to review toys. While I split my blog reading between lifestyle/DIY/fitness blogs and sexuality blogs, I've yet to "Internet meet" anyone who identifies as asexual. I've really loved meeting people who identify at many points along the gender identity and sexuality spectrum, and I think it's important that new people speak up about their experiences.

Thank you so much for sharing!

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Sarah @ Marvelous-Darling

This is such a great piece! I'm definitely going to be following your blog, Anna.

I started out blogging as a dating blogger and sex toy reviewer, and still work with companies to review toys. While I split my blog reading between lifestyle/DIY/fitness blogs and sexuality blogs, I've yet to "Internet meet" anyone who identifies as asexual. I've really loved meeting people who identify at many points along the gender identity and sexuality spectrum, and I think it's important that new people speak up about their experiences.

Thank you so much for sharing!

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Anonymous

Sorry I'm commenting anonymously, I'm just not ready to open up about this to anyone I know in real life, and I'm paranoid someone who knows me might read it.

So, as far as I can remember, I haven't really felt sexually attracted to anyone. I've never really enjoyed kissing (it's either "meh" or sometimes even feels a little repulsive). I remember when I was dating my now-husband, I really liked him as a person and I would come home after our dates and pray that I would feel attracted to him. I've been married six years and it has never gotten better. I've wondered countless times if something is wrong with me, if I'm broken. I'm in tears just writing this.

This may sound silly but when I read a romantic scene in a novel (not sexual, even just a falling in love or first kiss scene), I get those feelings in my stomach that I would guess are romantic feelings but I have never felt them for another person in real life. Ever. After my husband's and my first kiss, I came home and my roommates were all giddy and asking me about it. One roommate asked, "Did you get butterflies?!" and I just said yes even though I had no idea what she was talking about.

I love my husband, but sex is obviously a huge problem in our relationship. It's not that I hate sex, it just never occurs to me to have it because it's not something I ever feel desire for and it's not on my radar. It is so hard for me to pretend to be into it when we both know I could be doing my taxes for all the emotion I feel. It kills me to say that but I just don't know what to do. I have felt moments of sexual attraction, but I can count them on one hand and they only lasted for one, maybe two seconds.

I don't know if I sound like someone who might be asexual or not. It would be kind of a relief to be able to definitively label myself as asexual, because then I would know there was nothing wrong with me and I could stop trying to fix myself.

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Marta

Hey there.

As someone that experienced a tiny bit of the some things you've went trough (friends that ask you about your "butterflies" and you lie so that you feel a bit less weird, Kisses turning out a bit squicky,etc) and was heading that way (forcing myself to be something I wasn't and doing things I really didn't feel comfortable doing) I can say that I somewhat understand your feelings.

I found the EVEN site [mentioned by Anna on this interview] when I turned 19 and it was the best thing that could ever have happened to be, at that moment I stopped feeling like something that was broken and needed fixing, I'm not saying that it was easy or fast since we all live in a ultra-sexualized society that talks about sex 24/7 but it helped and in about 3/4 years I no longer feel like my own skin doesn't fit me and that there MUST be something wrong with me. You should definitely check it out, the community is extremely supportive and you'll be welcomed with open arms.

As for that "reading gives me feelings", that's actually pretty normal with some asexuals (myself included) there are many theories as for why but not many conclusions.

I hope I helped in any way and I can only hope you grow to know and accept yourself.

Best of Luck

Reply

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